Ann Dunbar, PT, DPT
Board-Certified in Women’s Health Physical Therapy
1998 Elizabeth Noble Award Recipient
Ann Dunbar received her BS in Physical Therapy from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, 1974 and her Advanced Masters and DPT degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA 1987 and 2007 respectively. She received her Board-Certified Women's Health Clinical Specialist in 2012.
Ann’s interest in women’s health began with a unit on physical therapy for postpartum women as a student at UNC. Taking her first job at a general hospital in VA, she taught bedside abdominal exercise and body mechanics to new mom’s. In the early 1980’s, continuing education courses were sparse. At her local community college, she found a maternity nursing course she was allowed to audit. She was able to design her Master’s program with a women’s health focus. She received graduate credit for completion of the 18 month long ASPO Lamaze certification program. Her Master’s thesis, published in the journal Pain, studied the assessment of pain responses to thermal stimuli comparing stages of pregnancy. Her Master’s coursework also included the development of a curriculum for a Women’s Health Unit which in 1988, she began teaching in the entry level PT program at MCV/VCU. This unit eventually transitioned into the current Gender Health Unit included in DPT program today.
Seeking a network of other PTs interested in women’s health, Ann found her way to a lifelong connection with PTs in the OB/GYN Section of the APTA, joining in the mid 1980’s. In 1987, she accepted a position she held for 10 years, as the Clinical Practices Editor for The Bulletin of the OB/GYN Section, a publication for which she wrote quarterly articles. In 1992 Ann joined the Board of Directors serving as Treasurer for the OB/GYN Section/Section on Women’s Health for the next 6 years. During this time, the SOWH publication also began its transition to become a refereed Journal. In 1997-98 Ann served as chair of the Editor Search Committee for this new Journal. It was in 1998 she was honored to be the recipient of the Elizabeth Noble Award.
Over the next 20 years, Ann also served the Section in other capacities. She was on the Journal Editorial Review Board, served as a SOWH Regional Course co-developer and co-instructor for Orthopedic PT for Chronic Pelvic Pain. She was co-chair of the Home Study Module Committee, a member of first and second First Professional Curriculum Task Force, was a presenter at CSMs and in general, was a proud section member.
Clinically, Ann attended the second course offered by the Section in 1990, on the evaluation and treatment of the pelvic floor. Her 44-year clinical career included primarily outpatient orthopedics and pain management first in private practice and then finding her way to VCU Health in 1998. Along the way, she was blessed to work with several mentors sharing their manual skills that would in turn serve the women’s health and pelvic health populations well. Over her 20-year tenure at VCU Health, she established the Pelvic Health Physical Therapy program and was honored to be a team member for what would become the multi-disciplinary VCUH Pelvic Health Center opening in 2018. Ann is now retired but continues to serve in a profession she has loved as an assistant for the Pelvic Physiotherapy Distance Journal Club.